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“ Our work,” said I, “was well begun :

Then, from thy breast what thought Beneath so beautiful a sun,

So sad a sigh has brought ?”

A second time did Matthew stop;

And fixing still his eye
Upon the eastern mountain-top,

To me he made reply:

“ Yon cloud with that long purple cleft

Brings fresh into my mind,
A day like this which I have left

Full thirty years behind.

“And just above yon slope of corn

Such colours, and no other, Were in the sky, that April morn,

Of this the very brother.

" With rod and line I sued the sport

Which that sweet season gave, And, to the church-yard come, stopped short

Beside my daughter's grave.

“Nine summers had she scarcely seen,

The pride of all the vale ; And then she sang ;-she would have been

A very nightingale.

“ Six feet in earth my Emma lay;

And yet I loved her more,
For so it seemed, than till that day

I e'er had loved before.

“And, turning from her grave, I met,

Beside the church-yard yew,
A blooming girl, whose hair was wet

With points of morning dew.

“A basket on her head she bare;

Her brow was smooth and white; To see a child so very fair,

It was a pure delight!

“No fountain from its rocky cave

E’er tripped with foot so free; She seemed as happy as a wave

That dances on the sea.

“ There came from me a sigh of pain

Which I could ill confine ;
I looked at her, and looked again :

And did not wish her mine!”.

Matthew is in his grave, yet now,

Methinks, I see him stand,
As at that moment, with a bough
Of wilding in his hand.


[While my fellow-traveller and I were walking by the side of Loch Ketterine one fine evening after sunset, we met, in one of the loneliest parts of that solitary region, two well-dressed women, one of whom said to us, by way of greeting, “What, you are stepping westward ?”]

“ WHAT, you are stepping westward ?" " Yea.
—'Twould be a wildish destiny,
If we, who thus together roam
In a strange land, and far from home,
Were in this place the guests of Chance;
Yet who would stop, or fear to advance,
Though home or shelter he had none,
With such a sky to lead him on?

The dewy ground was dark and cold:
Behind, all gloomy to behold;
And stepping westward seemed to be
A kind of heavenly destiny:
I liked the greeting ; 'twas a sound
Of something without place or bound :
And seemed to give me spiritual right
To travel through that region bright.

221 The voice was soft, and she who spake Was walking by her native lake : The salutation had to me The very sound of courtesy : Its power was felt; and while my eye Was fixed upon the glowing sky, The echo of the voice enwrought A human sweetness with the thought Of travelling through the world that lay Before me in my endless way.



Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland lass !
Reaping and singing by herself;

Stop here, or gently pass !
Alone she cuts, and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain ;
O listen ! for the vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No nightingale did ever chant
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,

Among Arabian sands:

A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard,
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas,
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings ?
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,

And battles long ago :
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day ?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again!

Whate'er the theme, the maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending :
I saw her singing at her work,

And o'er the sickle bending ;-
I listened, motionless and still ;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.


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